Hiroshi Sasaki's Reviews > Pathfinder

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card
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Apr 20, 11

bookshelves: ya
Read from April 15 to 20, 2011

I had all but given up on reading Card. He had long ago flaked out on the amazing Alvin Maker books started with Seventh Sun; he was running hot and cold with short stories; his more transparently evangelical tales ceased to amuse; and well, I love his first book, Ender's Game, as well as the books that came after in that universe; and I love his early short stories. But here I am again, picking up Pathfinder, NOT KNOWING IT'S THE FIRST IN A SERIES...and given his track record with Seventh Son, I may not have even started, had I known. But I would have cheated myself out of an amazing experience. I'm agnostic as to whether he'll complete this series or whether the book(s) that follow can possibly be as good. But this novel has wormed (no pun intended) its way into my "time travel top ten," possibly pushing out Wells' Time Machine (does the classic ur-text have to stay in the top 10? my wife the Chair of the English Department and I had this discussion... and concluded that just because a book's a classic, and must be read, doesn't mean it still holds up in all the ways it needs to in order to stay in a top ten list....). It's a fantasy quest wrapped up in an SF shell which fold into each other as the story spirals its way to its conclusion. It's a bildungsroman. It's a buddy story. It's about royalty and political intrigue. It's about terraforming, worldbuilding, and space travel. It's remarkably cohesive. It's compelling and hard-to-put-down. It defies extant tropes of time travel and avidly embraces paradox. It's smart yet fun. It's highly recommended for lovers of YA fantasy, or time travel, or especially for those who miss the brilliance that Card has previously oft displayed: the man is back! (and now I might go and pick up his most recent work, even that's the first in a series, too).
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